Monday, December 06, 2021

the holiday of preparation

On Chanukah we lein the parsha that speaks about the gifts the nesi'im brought for chanukhas ha'mishkan, but those gifts were actually brought in Nisan, when the mishkan was dedicated, not now.  Why is this the reading chosen for Chanukah?

In last week's parsha we read how Yosef instructed his household to prepare for the meal he would eat with the shevatim, וטבח טבח והכן.  It seems to be an unnecessary detail -- just tell us they ate together, who cares about the instructions to the staff to prepare? -- yet the Torah goes out of its way to mention it.  According to one view in Midrash the preparations here are preparations for Shabbos.  You can't just waltz into Shabbos; there is a mitzvah on Friday to prepare.  

It's probably not a coincidental that the letters of  טבח והכן spell out chanukah.  According to the Midrash even though the inauguration of the mishkan took place in Nisan, it was finished on 25 Kislev; everything was prepared and ready to go, including the gifts of the nesi'im.  Nisan was like kabbalas Shabbos; what took place in Kislev was like the mitzvah of hachanah for Shabbos.

We don't have a beis ha'mikdash, we don't have the menorah of the mikdash to light.  But, says the Sefas Emes (last section on Chanukah), we can still prepare ourselves to light, we can yearn to light.  וטבח טבח והכן, the mitzvah we have is to make hachanos, to prepare for what we hope the future will bring.  

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